It’s going to be the largest collection of XBee projects on the Web. So many people have used XBee radios to create amazing things that Liz Presson and I created a place for Digi (makers of the XBee) to feature the incredible work. Musical shoes, digital dominoes, interactive sculptures and autonomous penguins await!
Archive for the 'General' Category
About a week ago we had the marvelous opportunity to teach a three-day outreach workshop in wireless sensor networking and environmental monitoring at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. Our 24 students were educators, scientists and engineers from Malawi, Nicaragua, India, Ecuador, Venezuela, West Gambia, Philippines, USA, South Africa, Tanzania, Jamaica, Columbia, Ukraine, Argentina and Albania. Marco Zennaro coordinated the workshops and was tremendously helpful and generous to us. Jordan Husney lectured and taught alongside me, both of us fueled by copious amounts of Italian espresso, administered under Marco’s watchful eye.
Some of our topics included:
- Introduction to Wireless Sensor Networking
- Industrial Applications of Wireless Sensor Networking
- Fun with XBees
- Fundamentals of Wireless Sensor Networking
- Basic XBee Chat
- Doorbell Project
- Basic ZigBee Chat
- Simple Sensor Network
- XBee Internet Gateway (XIG)
- iDigi Basics
- iDigi via XIG
- Building Environmental Sensors
- Environmental Sensing: Outdoor Lab
Digi generously donated our time and many of the materials for these workshops. The students successfully built all kinds of networks using XBee radios, ConnectPort gateways, the XIG software, iDigi and iDigi Dia. They will take what they’ve learned back home to build a wide variety of environmental systems for agriculture, solar schoolhouses, water quality, radiation sensing, energy, emergency response and many other purposes.
Here’s some photos from our global educational venture:
This year I’m on the jury for the Core77 Design Awards in the DIY category along with Adafruit’s Becky Stern, Banana Design Lab’s Yuri Gitman and Madagascar Institute’s Hackett. We’ll be looking at entries from artists, inventors, students, scientists and other innovators to choose the most trophy-worthy projects. Here’s a blurb from the Awards site:
Recognizing excellence in all areas of design enterprise, the Core77 Design Awards celebrates the richness of the design profession and its practitioners. For our second year, we present 17 categories of entry, providing designers, researchers and writers a unique opportunity to communicate the intent, rigor and passion behind their efforts. From client work to self-initiated projects, entrepreneurial to pro-bono engagements, we embrace a wide diversity of enterprise: commercial, cultural, social, environmental and discursive.
For 17 years Core77.com has provided a gathering point for professional designers and design enthusiasts. They publish articles, host lectures, create exhibits and design competitions, and offer databases and forums used by the entire design community. It’s an honor to work with such a terrific group of jurors for one of the design community’s most high-profile awards. Want to win? You can start by watching the video below, then registering!
The Transpiration project that started in my Sensitive Buildings class at NYU’s ITP was commissioned by 240 Central Park South to be a permanent installation in the courtyard of the building. It opened last night to a crowded gala reception. Transpiration is a data-driven, reactive projection of a forest that is influenced by the motion of the building’s elevators and the flux of people in and out of the building. The data is collected using security cameras deployed in the four elevators and projected as an outdoor display approximately two stories tall and 70 feet wide. The work gives residents who do not have a park view an alternative organic vista that changes dynamically throughout the evening.
Jim Korein, one of the building’s owners, commissioned the work and sponsored the opening party. Residents in attendance gushed about the work, and Jim reported that the class and artworks had actually created a cooperative culture that distinctly transformed the tenant-management relationship for the best.
Transpiration is a work by Gabrielle Levine, Jack Kalish, Toby Schachman and Emily Webster. Sensitive Buildings was supported by NYU, Digi International and historic 240 Central Park South’s Omnispective Corp.
A new A380 carried me to the WaveForum conference in balmy Nice, on the French Rivera. There, somewhat bleary-eyed, I delivered a talk on the XBee Internet Gateway to customers and partners that explained the functions of the gateway, the value of open-source and the projects the XIG enables for Make: Live, ICTP and my Sensitive Buildings students. Quite the coup for something that was born in a few lines of code late at night in my home lab in late 2008! The next day I delivered my soon-to-be-classic Fun with XBees talk. That presentation shows off all the creative innovations enabled by XBee radios in the artist, scientist, maker, designer and inventor communities. It makes people smile.
I got to connect with a lot of Digi’s customers from European telecom industrialists to Croatian electrical engineering graduate students. And after a delicious lunch of mussels and fries, it is off to Italy for five days of teaching science sensor networking through UNESCO at ICTP.
This month I’ll be speaking at WaveForum in Nice, France. On February 14th I’ll be presenting the XBee Internet Gateway and on the 15th I’ll be talking attendees through the latest Fun with XBees. Are you in France or want to be? The basics for attending are on the main WaveForum site and there’s additional info on the iDigi blog.
Jordan Husney of Digi will be joining me to co-teach the workshop. We’re both looking forward to meeting some of our users from around the world in person!
The Advanced Kit for my Building Wireless Sensor Networks book is now finally available from SparkFun electronics! If you got the BWSN Basics Kit and still want more, the BWSN Advanced Kit can complete your array of tools and components to do every project in the book. This kit includes the key items you’ll need to complete the more advanced example projects in Building Wireless Sensor Networks. With this kit you can go “over the border” from your mesh network to the Internet, learn about home automation by exploring power control, post data using the XBee Internet Gateway software and more. Plus, you’ll save money over buying all these components separately.
2x Arduino Uno R3, 2x PowerSwitch Tail II, 1x ConnectPortx2, 1x XBee 2mW – series 2x, 1x 9V to Barrel Jack Adapter, 1x TMP36 IC, 1x XBee Explorer USB, 1x AA Battery Holder with Cover and Switch, 1x 6′ miniUSB Cable, 1x LM1117 Voltage Regulator, 1x 6′ USB A-B Cable, 1x 9V Wall Wart, 1x 2N3904 Transistor, 1x DC Barrel Jack Connector
Just back from a Los Angeles journey to call on various innovators in my role as Collaborative Strategy Leader for Digi International. First, I paid a visit to statistics professor and data expert Mark Hansen at UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networked Sensing. Mark is currently investigating what he calls “participatory sensing, projects that engage the general public in non-professional practices of data collection and analysis.” He also is involved with the New York Times, most notably the “Moveable Type” art installation featured in the lobby of the Times headquarters. We talked about citizen science, understanding the context for data, reckoning, estimation, and making the most of data even when it’s biased and inconsistent. I’m looking forward to getting more of his input on the iDigi device cloud as we move forward with enhancing its data management capabilities.
Next up was a visit to Culver City’s premier hacker hangout, Crash Space where Carlyn Maw and Tod Kurt of ThingM showed me around. We looked at their vast array of nifty parts and solid span of tools-both the 3D printer and old-school band saw variety. Then we tossed around ideas for putting together a hacker space challenge that aims to spur amazing new projects based on the iDigi platform. ThingM, by the way, produces various components to make prototyping with lights easy. My favorite example is the WineM smart rack that links physical bottles to a networked database for wine collectors—a fine start for an M2M network.
The Machine Project art space has been on my list ever since Botanicalls was exhibited there in 2007. It’s a storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that hosts events from scientific talks to group naps; shows collaborative projects from baby-controlled electronic music to collections of carnivorous plants; and hosts workshops on topics from electronics to pickling. Mark Allen showed us around the space, then we talked about holding workshops on connecting devices to the Internet and generalizing some of the sensor networking projects we’re planning with Exploratorium and Storefront for Art & Architecture.
Lots going on with sensors, technology, art and innovation in L.A. Looking forward to my next visit. Who else should I see? Let me know in the comments…
The students in our NYU ITP Sensitive Buildings class presented terrific final projects last Tuesday. They spent their Fall making the most of a unique opportunity to invent prototypes for large-scale sensor/device networks, then tested out their creations in a landmark 28-story apartment building on New York’s Columbus Circle. The property owners had invited ITP to develop a variety of prototypes to enhance the livability, ecology and community of their building. Here’s what the students delivered in their first round:
- Environmental Network: “A wireless sensor network to measure the temperature, humidity, air quality, and noise at various locations throughout the building, logging and visualizing sensor data in real-time. Also, we created an interface that allows a user to control a small electronic appliance, like a lamp or air conditioner, remotely (or from the convenience of their own bed).”
- Exercise Monitoring: “Gymfo tracked the temperature, light, sound and humidity as it corresponded to gym traffic. By using several sensors, as well as a file of all fingerprint reader, we created a way to map useful info, log intensity of workouts, created a useful tenant dashboard and provide feedback for the building.“
- Postal Mail Chute: “There are countless stories and myths about mail being stuck of lost in mail chutes, which results in tenants being wary of using them on a day-to-day basis. Our tracking system aims to solve this by verifying the mail’s passage through several floors of the building until it has safely arrived in the 1st floor holding box.“
- Elevator Visualization: “Transpiration is a data-driven, reactive projection in 240 Central Park South. It is demonstrative of the motion of the elevators through the elevator shafts, based on the flux of people in and out of the building. The data is collected using the security cameras deployed in the four elevators.“
The class was supported by New York University’s ITP program, the generosity of 240 Central Park South who provided the venue along with copious amounts of their time, and sponsorship from Digi International who supplied XBee, ConnectPort and iDigi networking solutions along with invaluable system architecture and support services.
Here’s a video from the elevator group, who has been asked to make their installation permanent: